Walls of Stone and Blood
Current ruler: Viscount Insa Draven
Vorashin was carved out of the biggest of the Fiend’s Jaw Mountains longer ago than any race can remember, though its ancient name persists, much like the city itself. Vorashin has been inhabited by numerous civilizations, only to be vacated every few centuries. Its buildings consist primarily of towers, with the tallest structures closer to the center and the shortest on the edges. The city continues below the ground in a series of catacombs that mirror the symmetrical design of the surface city. The catacombs begin just a few stories above the surface, and there are openings broken through the uncarved foot of the mountain where outside light and fresh air can enter the first few layers of catacombs. The layers belowground, however, are damp, dark, and dirty, as the inhabitants of Vorashin frequently use the catacombs as a makeshift sewer system.
Vorashin is located on the southernmost peninsula of Kaloetia. To the west of the city-state is the Sea of Kal, which is separated from the Fiend’s Jaw Mountains by a narrow coast. The River that flows southwest towards the city widens into a lake that forms a moat around Vorashin before flowing into the sea. This creates a valley that separates the city from the rest of the mountain range, which continues northwest from Vorashin. The land is fertile by the river, particularly in the valley, but the surrounding plains are completely barren. The soil is red and dry, no grass or trees grow there, and it is said that creatures that die far off the roads on the plains don’t even rot — they just become dried and bleached by the heat of the sun.
Vorashin is a large enough city to accommodate a population of approximately 30,000 people, so it frequently becomes a country of its own, as opposed to just another city. The city’s location between two continents has made it a nexus of trade among several nations, making it a melting pot of many cultures. Dwarven craftsmen, elven artisans, gnomish tinkerers, halfling chefs, and human merchants can all be found interacting in Vorashin markets. Even races considered uncommon can be found in significant quantities within its walls. However, there is one aspect of Vorashin that makes it the target of much contempt from other nations: slavery. The practice of using slaves had been brought to the city by its most recent colonists over 400 years ago, and it has persisted due to the amount of wealth concentrated within its walls. The trade is further supported by the Drow, as there is an opening to one of their cities, Relonmyrazz, in the Underdark. This entrance to the Drow city gives a glimpse into the ancient history of Vorashin, as the entrance has clearly been made using the same technique as the city.
Like most aspects of Vorashin culture, the social structure is unlike other cities. Merchants are the backbone of the city’s very being, due to the importance of trade. They even hold many of the offices of Vorashin’s local government, which is based on personal or family merit, as opposed tradition or blood ties. A council of 5 nobles or merchants (or Vorashin’s unique combination of both) are led by a viscount, whose successor is either elected from the council or a chosen by the viscount.
Of course, any place with extreme wealth also has extreme poverty. The alleyways of Vorashin hold enough poor souls to populate a city of their own. Orphans, merchants succumbed to gambling or drugs, former slaves, refugees from foreign lands, crippled laborers, and other financially challenged people inhabit the upper catacombs, away from the cruel eyes of sneering merchants. The upper catacombs are home to more than the poor, however. Strange cultists, the Thieves Guild, monstrous creatures, criminals escaping imprisonment, and other mundane hazards call the Undercity home. Vorashin’s city guard is regarded as being the best in the known world, and paradoxically the most corrupt, outside of Azamar, of course. They keep the streets of the surface city relatively safe, though they all but ignore the catacombs.
The deep catacombs under Vorashin hold dangers dark enough to strike fear in any heart. Countless adventurers have braved the dark corridors in hopes of finding wealth in the form of ancient secrets, forgotten magic items, bounties for dangerous monsters, and mapping the passages or clearing out monsters for eccentric patrons. It is unknown just how deep the catacombs go.
Recently, the prominent city-state has been conquered after a long and bloody war by Appecul, the largest nation on Kaloetia, making Vorashin just another city of Appecul. However, Vorashin still maintains most aspects of its unique culture, besides slavery, which is outlawed in Appecul. The wealth concentrated in the city was a tempting target for both Ionia and Appecul; the latter merely acted first, as it had geography on its side. The war officially lasted for around 80 years, though there were skirmishes for as long as a century beforehand. Vorashin held out for much longer than Appecul ever expected. While many citizens fought for the city-state, slaves and foreign mercenaries bolstered Vorashin’s army enough to give it the edge it needed. And what the city-state lacked in ground forces, it more than made up for with its navy, which was the same size as any full-sized nation. With these resources, Vorashin could have easily delayed a definitive victory for Appecul long enough to make their citizens lose morale and interest, but Appecul found a secondary reason for continuing their conquest: the abolition of slavery in Vorashin. With moral superiority on their side, the armies of Appecul were able to maintain their morale long enough to overpower the city-state. The war officially ended 10 years ago.
Refugees have been sailing into Vorashin ports from Amethias, a country in Ionia. Amethias is built around Mount Pyroas, the largest volcano in the world, which had been kept inactive by an order of elemental monks. Unfortunately, all the monks had been slaughtered under mysterious circumstances, and Pyroas became too active for the Amethians to live there any longer.
Terrorists calling themselves the Green Pact have been attacking prominent citizens and destroying parts of the city, claiming they will save people from the evils of city life. The group is primarily made up of people who were born outside the city, but citizens who have become disillusioned with city life of Vorashin are becoming a larger and larger part of their ranks. Due to the far-reaching influence of the former city-state, the growing terrorist group has even started to attract foreigners to the city who are interested in becoming a part of a cause larger than themselves, whether it’s joining or crushing the Green Pact.
Recently, veins of valuable ore have been discovered just outside of the catacombs. Miners seeking for their fortune are braving the catacombs to get to these veins.
Vorashin has always been known for its nearly limitless supply of bloodstone, a moderately valuable gemstone, which is the official reason for being called “the city of stone and blood” (though truly Vorashin earned this name for two of its most infamous traits: cold stone walls and high rate of violent crime). Other than that, the usual array of iron, copper, tin, and zinc has been mined from the surrounding mountains for some time. Recently, veins containing gold, silver, and several types of gem more valuable than simple bloodstone has been discovered in the catacombs under Vorashin itself. Initially, there were concerns that mining directly under the city could impact stability and cause cave-ins or sink holes within Vorashin, or even a complete collapse of the entire city. This concern was quickly brushed aside by several merchant barons (who had coincidentally just recently acquired mining companies).